Pro Techniques 12.2003
Pro Techniques from Matt Rocker
By Randy Alberts
Rocker and his colleagues didn't yet know the scale of the disaster, but they did know they had a pair of Apple Titanium PowerBooks, a good mic, and an Mbox on hand, and still had 24 hours to make the film's scheduled edit, mix, color correction, video, and film transfer dates — and ultimately the Sundance Film Festival deadline.
Mbox: Commando ADR Recording 101
"Pro Tools LE 6 and the Mbox are amazing for a number of reasons," he says. "Having all the 'Command Focus' shortcuts available in LE means I can work the exact same way on my laptop as I do on my desktop TDM system. For ADR recording, and for film sound in general, Pro Tools has really become ubiquitous."
The T-Bone's Connected To The…Mbox
Rocker continues, "I definitely see people doing more mobile recording than before. "People are using the Mbox for ADR recording, and as a sort of expansion chassis for their HD and TDM systems. That's how they recorded a lot of the ADR for Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. For ADR and film work in general, timecode is absolutely essential. Not having that was a serious limitation of Pro Tools LE before, but the DV Toolkit for Pro Tools 6 could now have a big impact for those applications. It's certainly easier to transport a Digi 002 or an Mbox than to haul a rack around with an expansion chassis, interface, and preamps."
Pro Technique 1 —
To help keep actors in sync with their original dialogue, a cueing method called "beeps" or "three-beeps" is usually employed. There are several hardware and software solutions available for cueing beeps within Pro Tools, but Matt suggests that the simplest path with Pro Tools LE is to create a three-beep file that can be played back on a dedicated beep track.
"To create a three-beep," Rocker explains, "use a signal generator to create two 500 kHz sine tones and a 1 kHz sine tone that are each 50 to 100 milliseconds long. Next, use Pro Tools in Grid mode to place these tones one second apart, then use the 'Duplicate' function in AudioSuite to consolidate the three-second region, starting on the first beep. The region should be placed directly before the line the actor is being cued for, so that the imaginary 'fourth beat' one second later is their cue and their entrance to the line."
Where in the Pro Tools ADR session do you place a three-beep?
"I've found the best way to set accurate beeps is to place your cursor insertion point at the beginning of the waveform for the line you are replacing," says Rocker. "Paste the beeps into the beep track, and then move the tail of the beep file so it's aligned with that location. You do this by pressing 'k' in Command Focus mode to 'Snap End To Play.' Don't forget to check that your edit and timeline selections are linked."
Pro Technique 2 —
"It's usually a good idea to give a generous amount of pre- and post-roll and pre- and post-record time in your Preferences, to allow the actor to deviate and take breaths," he explains. "When loop recording, each subsequent pass will have the same region name, with an amended take number for each pass. It can also save a lot of editing time if the director or an assistant takes notes about which takes they like best on the script or ADR sheet as we go along."
On projects like Senses of Place, where there's limited time to finish the ADR sessions, Rocker will just leave all the takes on one Pro Tools track. He knows that later he can scroll through his choices using the Takes list pop-up menu.
"Just Control + click on the looped region with the Pro Tools I-beam tool," Rocker concludes. "That's when taking notes for the director's choices becomes critical. If the session is more leisurely, I may set up a number of blank tracks below the record track, and pull down each candidate take as we go. I arrange them in order from best to worst, going from the top track to the bottom. Also, be sure to record each new character voice on a new track."